Disturbed by the spate of killings in Plateau, Benue, Kaduna, Katsina and some other parts of Nigeria, the Senate yesterday mandated its committees on Security and Intelligence, Defence and Army, Police Affairs and Interior to henceforth embark on a fact-finding mission with a view to unravelling the root cause of the menace.
The committees are expected to report findings in two weeks.
The decision followed a motion sponsored by Senators Barnabas Gemade (Benue North-east), George Akume (Benue North-west), Gyang Pwajok (Plateau North), Joshua Dariye (Plateau Central), Victor Lar (Plateau South) and Nenadi Usman (Kaduna South).
While presenting the motion, Gemade said the Senate noted “with dismay how human lives have become increasingly very cheap and impunity has become the norm in Nigeria particularly in the case of the North-central and North-east geo-political zones.”
According to Gemade, in these geo-political zones, “danger has become very real indeed and the attacks have become not only incessant but the gory details of the daily massacres are becoming more=====ZZ daring and horrific, reflecting casualty of mostly innocent and unsuspecting children, women and the elderly.”
He also said the level of killings had become so horrendous to the extent that Nigeria seemed to be “in the middle of a civil war with multiple ill-defined fronts” adding that perpetrators of the heinous crimes are often portrayed either as faceless “unknown gunmen,” “Boko Haram” and “Fulani herdsmen in conflict with farmers” as he noted that the victims of this evil spread across states such as Plateau, Benue, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Borno, Adamawa, Yobe States, among other parts of Nigeria.
Gemade, who also said the roles of the police and the military were now at a critical point as a result of the introduction of religious and ethnic colouration into the crisis, added that the situation had become highly contagious with grave effects on social and economic lives of affected communities.
While noting that the trend had resulted in enormous destruction of lives and property with thousands now fleeing their homes and abandoning their farmlands especially in North-central zone, Gemade said between May 29, 2011 and January 31, 2012 in Plateau State for instance, no fewer than 1,131 deaths had been reported, adding that in some other areas, no fewer than 10,000 people have been displaced with countless communities across the zones affected.
Remarking that residents of various communities now live in palpable fear with their economic lives completely grounded, he tasked the government to quickly rise against the tide, saying “apart from providing necessary democratic essentials, meeting the security needs of the people remains the primary purpose of government as a result, if a state, local government, ward or village area under a federal system cannot be effectively protected by the federal police, federal army and other forces, the nation cannot afford to remain scared of trying tested solutions adopted by other federal systems of the world.”
He also noted that if the situation was not quickly arrested and displaced persons returned to their various homes and farmlands, they will sooner than later be consumed by famine and starvation.
Contributing to the motion, Senator George Sekibo (Rivers East) said given the spate of mindless killings in the nation, it was obvious that Nigeria is at war with itself even though the war mongers remain unknown as he expressed fear that if the rampage goes unchecked, it can lead to Nigeria’s disintegration moreso that citizens now live in fear in their country.
Furthermore, he said this fear had led to the loss of confidence in their country, insinuating that the loss of confidence could result in disintegration as he advocated declaration of emergency on security in the country as a necessity to address the menace.
He also lamented that the nation’s human resources, some of whom he said included leaders of the nation in the next 50 years, had destroyed without reasons.
In the same vein, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (Abia North), who echoed earlier submissions that majority of the herdsmen and killers were not Nigerians, observed that the matter needed to be seriously dealt with in view of an earlier prediction that Nigeria would disintegrate in 2015.
He also suggested that Nigeria reserved the right under an international law to pursue strangers invading the country to destroy its people to wherever they have been coming from.
Some other senators such as Solomon Ewuga (Nasarawa North), Gyang Pwajok (Plateau North), Babafemi Ojudu (Ekiti Central), Abdul Ningi (Bauchi Central), also expressed grave concern over the tragedy.
In his remark, the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the sitting, noted that whereas the primary purpose of the government was to protect lives and property, contact with other nations now poses serious threats to Nigeria.
While advocating state police as a measure to curb the menace, Ekweremadu said the tragic situation confronting Nigeria today was another proof that Nigeria could not continue to run a federal system without decentralising its police.
“We run a federal system of government and it is completely unacceptable in a federal system for us to have a federal system and for us to also have a centralised police. Policemen are not magicians. There is no way a policeman can stay in one kilometre and know when a crime is being committed in another kilometre. We must be able to provide sufficient police personnel so that there should be at least one policeman per hundred metres away. And this can only be achieved if we decentralise our police and ensuring that we have state police and possibly local police that is well coordinated and regulated. We had problem in the past in this area because they were not well regulated and they were not coordinated.
“I think time has come for us to reflect on this and see how we can provide efficient security for our people. And our police as they are now, need to be more trained and then they will be able to ensure that the laws are enforced no matter who is involved. So, if we do some of these and all that we have said here, I am sure that we would be able to recover our country from the doomsday that is being predicted. But I believe as said by Sekibo that we can overcome this challenge and be stronger again as a country,” he said.